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Sign Language Studies

American Annals of the Deaf

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Deaf-Blind Reality: Living the Life
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We’ve had so many issues. They wouldn’t tap me, so I missed the bus, because I never knew it was there. They took me to the wrong door, so I’d be confused and not able to find my classroom. One time, they took me to the wrong building altogether and left me there.

It’s been rough, but they finally seem to be getting the idea. This semester has been fine, no serious problems yet. I love riding the bus to class, because it’s something I can actually do on my own. I don’t want my parents to have to escort me to the classroom—that’s embarrassing. I’m an adult; I can do things on my own. I just need a little extra help. The transportation service makes it possible for me to achieve this bit of independence. And that makes me feel a little bit more like a normal person.

Christian S. Shinaberger

Mostly, I’ve lived in houses. When I lived in a dormitory for three years at UCSD, I used the cafeteria and going out with friends for meals.

I liked the laundromat on campus. The washers had three choices: cold, warm, and hot, and I could remember which was which without the benefit of vision. Doing my laundry was very easy.

In the dorm, I always got a single, which suited me just fine. I didn’t have to worry about my Braille equipment being stolen.

I also had an experience in high school one summer when I lived in an apartment for one month, alone. My mobility instructor helped set it up. I was already familiar with basic laundry and cooking, although I didn’t cook much when I was alone.

As for homes, they have so far always been with my immediate family. I currently live at my mom’s house.

I help out with cleaning in the kitchen. Cooking isn’t something I do a lot of, but I do enjoy cooking with someone else, and I like to use our propane grill. We just got a new dishwasher here, and I don’t have it marked with tactile labels yet. I’m sorry our old one finally died after about thirty years. It had real push buttons, which is damned hard to find on appliances these days (as opposed to touchpad buttons that cannot be felt). I still can’t read Braille that well, even after the carpal tunnel surgery. Of course, some things just need a few raised marks.

I’m estranged from my sister, and most of my relatives live back east, or should I say, down south (in Georgia).

Yard work . . . well, I don’t do much there. But on occasion, I do things alone, like trimming bushes. And sometimes, I help my mom do things outside. She often supervises what I do in the yard. We have gardeners at the present, so we don’t have to do too much out there. My regular outdoor work consists of taking the trash out front on Tuesdays. Nothing special involved here. We have three cans: recyclable stuff, general trash, and garden trash. I’ve tied a shoelace around the one for recycling, so I can identify it. The garden can has a dent in the lid, and the regular trash can is smaller than the other two.

I prefer gas stoves with real knobs when cooking. That is the most important thing for me. I should label things in the kitchen, but I don’t cook that much. I’d like to find an easy-to-use talking thermometer for the grill and perhaps the oven. I use the grill more than the oven. But I really don’t have any special gadgets for cooking at the moment. Separating laundry without sighted help is the one task I dread the most. I can’t tell the difference between dark and light colors. At the dorm, I had everything pretty much match, so it didn’t matter what I grabbed to wear. But at home, the laundry is more complicated. Once someone helps me sort the colors out, I can handle the rest of the job on my own.

Christy L. Reid

After leaving college and beginning my first full-time paying job, I moved into an apartment and lived on my own. The job was located in Baltimore, and my parents drove me from Poplar Bluff, Missouri, to Baltimore to help me find an apartment in an accessible location. We found an ideal apartment complex in a very good location that would make it easier for me to live on my own. The apartment complex grounds were set right next to a subway stop, and tenants received a key to the private gate.

There was a supermarket about a mile down the road from the apartment, and it was easy for me to walk there on the sidewalk. But getting back to the apartment with groceries was a different matter. I usually purchased a good supply of groceries, so my grocery shopping trips would be less frequent. I devised a sign using a big piece of cardboard and wrote my apartment address on it with a black marker. I taped the sign to my front door (I had a ground-floor apartment with a private patio) and left the outdoor light on over my door. Then I set off on foot for the grocery store. After completing my shopping, I asked the person assisting me to please call a taxi for me to take me home. I didn’t really like using cabs; I almost always had to wait for them for a long time. But there was no other way to get all those groceries home, so I was prepared to wait. When the taxi finally showed up, I would give the driver a printed note with my address and told him to look for the sign on my door. Thus, the cab drivers always found my apartment without trouble.

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